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MAJID GHAIDAN AL-KHAZRAJI v. ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE

September 30, 1981

Majid Ghaidan AL-KHAZRAJI, a/k/a Majid Al-Khazraji Allan, Plaintiff,
v.
SAINT FRANCIS COLLEGE, John Willoughby, Gervase Cain, Kirk Weixel, John Coleman, Rodrique Labrie, Albert Zanzuccki, Adrian Baylock, Marian Kirsch and David McMahon, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ZIEGLER

I. History of Case

 On February 10, 1978, the tenure committee of Saint Francis College completed its deliberations and voted to deny tenure to plaintiff. The Board of Trustees ratified the recommendation on February 23, 1978. Plaintiff appealed this decision within the institution but the tenure committee voted against reconsideration of plaintiff's application.

 On March 20, 1978, Al-Khazraji received a one-year written contract from the college for the 1978-79 academic year. This contract specifically stated that plaintiff's appointment as a full-time faculty member would not be renewed at the conclusion of that academic year. Plaintiff completed the contract, and was officially severed from the faculty on March 20, 1979.

 In October of 1980 plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against St. Francis College and the individual trustees. He initially alleged that defendants had engaged in employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. *fn1" Subsequently, plaintiff secured counsel and filed amended complaints which additionally alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985(3), 1986, as well as violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951 et seq. The thrust of all these claims is that defendants denied tenure to plaintiff due to his national origin (Iraqui), religion (Muslim) or race (Arabian), in violation of federal law and the United States Constitution.

 Defendants responded with a bevy of motions aimed at dismissing and striking the various claims brought by plaintiff. *fn2" By order dated February 9, 1981, this court dismissed plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1986 as untimely, but denied the remaining motions. *fn3"

 Defendants now urge this court to reconsider its order of January 9, 1981, and dismiss the claims founded on Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985(3) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The issues now have been fully briefed by the parties and, for the following reasons, the motion of defendants to reconsider will be granted in part and denied in part.

 II. Title VII Claims

 Defendants first urge that plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be dismissed in their entirety, as being untimely. Defendants take the position that any alleged discrimination occurred on February 10, 1978, when the tenure committee recommended that tenure be denied. Defendants argue that plaintiff had 180 days from that date to file a complaint with the EEOC, which he failed to do. Plaintiff rejoins, however, that the 180-day limitation period embodied in Title VII commenced on March 20, 1979, when he exhausted his internal appeals and was officially discharged. For the following reasons, we are compelled to conclude that plaintiff's Title VII claim is untimely.

 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that aggrieved persons file a complaint with the EEOC "within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred ..." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e). This limitation period, while guarantying the protection of the civil rights laws to those who promptly assert their rights, also protects employers from the burden of defending claims arising from employment decisions that are dated. Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 463-464, 95 S. Ct. 1716, 1721-1722, 44 L. Ed. 2d 295 (1975).

  In a case strikingly similar to the one at bench, the Supreme Court recently held that the limitation period commences for a college professor who believes that he has been discharged in violation of Title VII at the time the adverse tenure decision is made and communicated to him. Delaware State College v. Ricks, 449 U.S. 250, 101 S. Ct. 498, 66 L. Ed. 2d 431 (1980). There the Board of Trustees of Delaware State College formally voted to deny Professor Ricks tenure on March 13, 1974. Ricks was offered a "terminal" contract to teach one additional year, after which time his employment relationship would end. Ricks executed the contract, and initiated grievance procedures within the college. On September 12, 1974, the Board notified Ricks that his grievance had been denied. On April 4, 1975, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC.

 The Supreme Court held that the claim was untimely because Ricks had not filed the charge within 180 days of the date the college initially determined to deny him tenure, namely, March 13, 1974. The Court rejected the contention that the statute of limitations began to run after the one-year "terminal" contract expired, or when the plaintiff exhausted the internal grievance procedures of the college. The Court concluded that "the only alleged discrimination occurred and the filing limitations periods therefore commenced at the time the tenure decision was made and communicated to Ricks. That is so even though one of the effects of the denial of tenure the eventual loss of a teaching position did not occur until later." -- - U.S. at -- , 101 S. Ct. at 504.

 Likewise, in the instant case, we are bound to conclude that the statute of limitations began to run, for purposes of filing the Title VII action, at the time St. Francis College made its official decision to deny tenure and communicated that decision to Al-Khazraji, namely, on February 10, 1978. *fn4" This follows although plaintiff accepted a "terminal" contract for an additional year, and notwithstanding the institution of grievance procedures within the institution.

 The Supreme Court's holding in Ricks compels the finding that, once the tenure committee voted to deny plaintiff tenure on February 10, 1978, the alleged discriminatory act was a fait accompli. Plaintiff then had 180 days to file a complaint with the EEOC. *fn5" Because he failed to ...


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